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How to Get the Lowest Interest Rates

In today’s tough financial world lenders are way more cautious in lending money.  To get the best rate when applying for a loan you must show that you are a low risk. The best proof is your FICO score.  The higher your FICO score the lower your interest rate.  Your FICO score is the number […]

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When to Use a Credit Card Vs. Debit Card

June 7, 2010 | Credit Cards | No Comments

Debit cards have taken over credit cards.  So when should you use your credit card vs. your debit card.  Like most things in life, it depends.

When to Use a Credit Card
You want to use a credit card when making big ticket purchases such as a HD TV or computer, especially if you are making the purchase online.  If there is a problem with your purchase, you can contact your credit card company to withhold payment. With a debit card, the money is deducted from your checking account immediately and it may take days or weeks to resolve the issue with the merchant.

Credit card companies such as American Express add up to 1 year to the manufacturer’s warranty on products you buy using their credit card.  You may also get additional protection from theft, damage and identity protection.  Many credit card companies also offer 24 hours roadside emergency assistance, travel insurance, car rental loss and damage insurance.

When using a debit card for some hotels, restaurants, car rental companies and gas stations, a hold maybe placed on money in your checking account until the debit transaction is processed.  This may take up to several days for signature-based payments.  The amount that’s held may be much more than the amount of your purchase.  The money held can prevent you from accessing the money in your account and could result in bounced checks, declined transactions or overdraft charges.

Earning Rewards
Very few debit cards offer reward programs and if they do, the reward programs are not as good as credit cards.  Using debit cards will not maximize your cash back or points you can earn.  However, credit card rewards tend to have the highest interest rates, so if you don’t payoff your balance in full each month, don’t use a reward credit card.

Your Liability

Per federal law, liability for fraudulent charges on debit cards can be greater than it is for credit cards.  You are responsible for up to $50 for fraudulent purchases on your credit card, however, for your debit card, you can lose up to $500 if you don’t report the loss or theft of your card or PIN with 2 business days of finding the problem.  Additionally, if you do not report the fraudulent charge within 60 days of the date of the statement that lists them, you maybe held liable for any unauthorized withdrawals after that date.

MasterCard and Visa offer “zero liability” policies that is beyond federal law by exempting debit cardholders from liability in most cases when a bank investigation confirms a transaction is fraudulent.  However, there are loopholes in those policies that may allow people who create fake ATM or debit cards by stealing your PIN and other account data to simply pull cash from your bank account. By using a scheme called “skimming”, they use equipment to capture the magnetic-stripe and keypad information when you enter your PIN at ATMs, gas pumps, restaurants, and retailers. Wants to Replace Your Saving Account

June 5, 2010 | Investing | Videos | 1 Comment (a new startup) wants to replace your bank’s saving account, which pays almost nothing; to an investment account that promises to pays more.  (See video below).

Savings accounts are simple and low risk with low interest rates.  Investment account may promise higher returns, however, they can often be complex and confusing.  Betterment has created a new category that offers the returns of investing with less complexity or hassle.

When customers deposit money in their Betterment account, the money is invested in their chosen blend of diverse stocks or a portfolio of US Treasury bonds.   Customers can allocate funds between these two investment options, setting the level of risk they’re comfortable with. Opening an account takes about 5 minutes, there’s no minimum balance, and transfers are free.

When customers deposit money with Betterment, their money is transferred to Betterment Securities (their broker-dealer), with instructions to buy ETFs (exchange-traded funds, similar to mutual funds) based on their desired allocation between stocks and bonds. Customers own shares in the ETFs, while Betterment recommends and manages buying and selling.

Betterment charges an annual fee of 0.9%, based on a customer’s average balance which is a quarter percent lower than the average mutual fund fee and much less than the average amount banks make off of customer deposits.

Betterment is a Registered Investment Advisor and Betterment Securities is a broker-dealer regulated by FINRA and the SEC. Betterment’s SIPC coverage means that the securities in user accounts are protected up to $500,000 (for more information, visit

Since Betterment invests customer’s money in the stock market, they can lose money if the market goes down.  Balances will fluctuate based on market conditions.  Over the long term customers should get a much better return that their savings account.

Betterment currently only operates in the United States. is currently offering $25 when you open a new account. For more information visit

Google is Always Recording Your Every Move

May 24, 2010 | My Ramblings | No Comments

If you use many of Google’s services like I do, be aware that Google stores a ton of information about you and your Internet activities which includes visited sites, search terms used, maps displayed, email contacts, calendar data, emails, chat history, phone records (via Google Voice), Google/YouTube videos, Picasa photos, documents you store online (via Google Documents), Google Checkout to buy and sell products/services, Google Buzz updates (similar to Twitter) and advertising (via Google Adwords).   If you use an Android handset, Google also stores your cell phone data.  

If the authorities want to know what you have been up to, they can subpoena Google to hand over a mountain of information about you.  Google also retains data for many years.  So information about you can be obtained from many years ago.

Additionally, identity thieves are a huge threat!  Getting access to your Gmail account will unlock every other Google service.  Last October, it was reported that thousands of Gmail, AOL, MSN, Hotmail and Yahoo accounts were accessed via a phishing scheme.

So be extremely careful the information you give Google.  You may want to consider using other services to spread the risk.  You can visit to find out what information you are sharing and adjust your security settings.  It’s always a good idea to use passwords that are hard to guess by using symbols and upper/lower case letters.  If your Google account is ever stolen or hacked, you can use Google’s account-recovery page at

WTDirect Offering $100 Cash Bonus for Every $10K Deposit

May 21, 2010 | Banking | No Comments

WTDirect is offering a $100 cash bonus, up to $500 for every $10,000 you deposit.  That’s an immediate 1% return.  You will have to open and fund your account by June 15, 2010 and maintain your initial deposit for three months to receive a cash bonus.

Now for the fine print:

  • This offer is available to new WTDirect clients only.
  • Primary account holder must NOT have held a WTDirect account in the past 12 months. WTDirect account must be opened and funded via electronic (ACH) transfer received by 6/15/10.  
  • Bonus is based upon the lowest daily balance during the promotional period of 6/15/10 – 9/15/10.  
  • Bonuses will be paid approximately 2 weeks after the end of the promotional period to clients whose accounts are open and in good standing.  
  • Wilmington Trust employees and their family members are not eligible.
  • WTDirect reserves the right to cancel or modify this promotion at any time without notice.


For more information visit

Save Money with Peer-to-Peer Personal Loans

May 18, 2010 | Credit Cards | No Comments

Below is a video of a recent news report from ABC KABC-TV in Los Angeles, CA, featuring a Lending Club borrower who took a personal loan to pay off her credit card debt which saved her money in the process.

The news report also featured a Lending Club investor who built a diversified portfolio, lending no more than $100 at a time to more than 200 loans with a return of over 10%.

Related Article: Need a Loan? Get a Low Interest Loan from Lending Club

Switch to KeyBank and Get a Free iPod

May 18, 2010 | Banking | No Comments

KeyBank is offering a free iPod Touch if you switch your banking to them.  You can get a free iPod Touch if you open a checking account (Key Express Free Checking or Key Advantage Money Market Checking), make one Key KeyBank Rewards debit card transaction and make a combination of two direct deposits and/or automated payments each of $100 or more by October 1, 2010.  

KeyBank is also offering the iPod Touch with a $25 iTunes gift card if you open a checking account (Key Privilege Checking or Key Privilege Select Checking), make one KeyBank Rewards debit card transaction and make a combination of two direct deposits and/or automated payments each of $100 or more by October 1, 2010.

Per the fine print:

  • You must have or request a KeyBank Rewards debit card (Key Privilege Select clients must have or request a KeyBank Rewards World debit card) and enroll in the KeyBank Rewards program.
  • There is a $20 annual fee for the KeyBank Rewards Program that will be waived for the first year.
  • Qualifying debit card transactions include signature, PayPass, and PIN-based purchases only.
  • Direct deposit transactions are limited to: payroll, Social Security, pension, and government benefits.
  • Automated payments exclude Key Bill Pay, debit card automated payments, PayPal transactions, and account-to-account balance transfers.
  • Limit one iPod touch per qualifying account.
  • Limit one iPod touch per individual.
  • The value of the iPod touch and, if applicable, the $25 iTunes card will be reported on Form 1099-INT.
  • You will receive your iPod touch within 90 days of meeting requirements.
  • Offer available to individuals without an existing checking account at KeyBank as of 4/30/10.
  • Employees of KeyBank, its affiliates, and subsidiaries are not eligible for this offer.
  • If you close your account within 180 days of account opening, you will be charged a $25 account early closure fee.
  • Accounts overdrawn or closed as of 10/1/10 are not eligible for this offer.
  • Accounts titled as Trust Accounts, Estate, and No Access are excluded from eligibility.
  • You must have a U.S. mailing address on 10/1/10 to be eligible.
  • The iPod touch shipped may differ from the iPod touch shown.
  • Offer is subject to cancellation without notice and cannot be combined with any other offer.


For more information visit

Use Google Ads to Find a Job!

May 18, 2010 | My Ramblings | Videos | No Comments

If you are in the job market and want to differentiate yourself from everyone else, you may want to consider trying Alec Brownstein’s method for landing a job.  Brownstein identified influential individuals in his field who could hire him.  He then created ads on Google Search by bidding on the names of the people he wanted to notice him.  When they Googled their names, Brownstein ad would appear.  As a result he was able to land his job.  See video below.  Read more here.